Monday, 18 November 2013

In the modern schoolyard, being an Evangelical Christian is just so gay

This is a guest post by Rev Julian Mann

British secondary schools are now much tougher places for Christian teenagers than they were when I was at school in the 1970s.

Political correctness was an incipient ideology in that decade but it was not being enforced. Now it is and teenage disciples of Jesus Christ who articulate certain Bible-based ethical views, for example against abortion and same-sex marriage, face flak not only from their peers but also from their school authorities when, as is inevitable, such opinions generate complaints. 

Ironically, the ideological atmosphere in British state schools is such that you are almost more likely to be abused as 'gay' for being an orthodox Christian than for being a homosexual. 

Anyone conversant with teenage parlance knows that 'gay' is the new 'naff'.  No amount of Stonewall enforcement is going to stop teenagers from using the term about anything from an uncharismatic police horse to a peer's new quiff. It is in widespread usage in schools and teachers cannot monitor every conversation. But any student concerned about their school record will be deterred by an accusation of homophobic bullying, so will think twice about using the term perjoratively against a peer who comes out as a homosexual.

However, they well know that no such sanction will result if they use the term against a Christian peer. There is no equivalent of a Stonewall award for a school for tackling 'Christianophobic' bullying - not that Christians should want to generate witchhunts for 'Christianophobes'. That kind of atmosphere is not good for the gospel, which relies for its progress not on coercion or a climate of fear but on genuine persuasion.

In the current ideological climate, teachers are under little pressure to clamp down on verbal abuse against Bible-believing Christians. Furthermore, reflecting social attitudes among university-educated people most teachers would think anyway that in normal cases abortion and sex outside heterosexual marriage are morally right. They would regard any deviation from such ethical norms as extremely bigoted.

Therefore the following taunt within earshot of a teacher in a British secondary school is well possible:

"Hey you Bible-basher, I hear you're against gay marriage because you're a Jesus freak. You're so gay!" 

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire.